But some are thinking about it, especially computer and other information technology companies that are being pursued by everyone from CNN International to International Data Group.
"It takes a champion in a [marketer] organization who feels strongly about the value" of a global deal, said Frank Cutitta, IDG's international marketing services president. "It's the most politically sensitive thing you can do-take control of the message and the money."
For some media planners, a schedule on CNN International counts as a global media buy. To Brian Jacobs, media development director at Carat, a truly global media deal should "encompass not just space but give [the marketer] almost favored-nation status" with a media outlet.
For example, if Mars had a global media deal with Rupert Murdoch and planned to enter a new market, Mr. Murdoch's operations would be the first to know and could plan linkups such as a Mars-made Simpsons candy bar, based on the popular Fox TV program.
"It should be a true partnership between media and marketer," Mr. Jacobs said. "The difficulty is there are very, very few companies that could do a thing like that. Procter & Gamble could, and airlines."
Today, the growth area is definitely media buys across a single region. But as media become more global, some marketers are beginning to make the leap between regions.
"It's on a regional level [now], but it will become easier to conduct global ad buys," said Nigel Phillips, associate director of CIA Media Network International, London. "In terms of global advertising, I don't think clients have that kind of scope. They see [the world] more as pan-regional marketing units."
CIA set up a separate international TV buying and planning unit in May in response to the proliferation of regional TV channels and ad spending. Mr. Phillips said that the focus will initially be on Europe, but the unit will also look at Asian buys.
The media are ahead of advertisers and global buying is still in its infancy, said David Levy, senior VP-international sales/the Americas at Turner International. About 60% of ad buys on CNN International are regional and 40% are global, including campaigns by Eastman Kodak Co. and IBM Corp. for the Olympics, he said. CNN's pan-regional business totals about $350 million a year, up from only $150 million three years ago.
Dow Jones & Co. has advertisers such as Volvo, Digital Equipment Corp., Siemens and the Indonesian Tourist Board advertising on its Asian Business News and European Business News satellite channels.
The long-term plan, said EBN Director of Marketing Frances Whitehead, is to go global by next extending Dow Jones Television in the U.S. from program producer to broadcaster, then entering broadcasting in Latin America.
Telecommunications, luxury goods, airlines and computer marketers are moving to more integrated marketing as they trade globally, Ms. Whitehead said.
Marketers and media directors say there are some key stumbling blocks to global media planning and buying:
At the client end, deals can be scuttled by the lack of centralized budgets and turf battles with local managers who don't want to give up control over advertising decisions. "It becomes a huge political thing, and local and regional directors feel emasculated," said one media executive involved in negotiations for a global deal.
Often no one at the media owner has the power to enforce a centrally negotiated buy among unruly subordinates who resist discounts or other elements of the deal. "News Corp. has put several people in the position where they think they can deliver [global buys]-and they can't," said one media buyer. "Sometimes the parts are greater than the whole."
Europe tends to be the easiest region for placing international campaigns, followed by Asia and trailed by Latin America. Japan is often treated as a market apart, due to language and cultural issues. Memorably, a recent international campaign by Novell with the brief but punchy slogan "Yes" ended up running in Japan as "Hello."
Zenith Data Systems is finalizing its first global media buy, working with IDG. It is still undecided exactly how much of Zenith's $24 million worldwide ad spending through a number of agencies will be committed to IDG.
"We'll be one of the first to have a global contract," said Linda Hayes, Zenith's VP-marketing communications. Zenith will choose the specific IDG titles locally, commit to a media plan, and then buy all the pages centrally from one point from IDG, she said.
"We meet with people in different countries, talk about strategy and make sure everybody is on board," Ms. Hayes said. "The specific message will be tailored to the [local] market but it's definitely a global branding effort."
"We offer multicountry discounts and will lock the foreign exchange in" to protect budgets against currency changes, said IDG's Mr. Cutitta, who negotiates international sales. "And there are enormous economies of scale in creative development."
He said IDG also can offer added value through research and mailing lists, benefits that are still new to Europe because ad rates are so negotiable.
Frans Kramer, director of international advertising at Lotus Development Corp., is collecting data on Lotus' ad spending from the U.S. to Asia Pacific.
"The next step is using the buying power we have in the U.S. with organizations like IDG or Ziff-Davis and try to develop more international deals," he said. "Instead of talking in each individual country, we'll see what benefits we can get by putting the whole thing together in one basket."
"Often the most tangible way to measure buys is the bottom line savings," said Paul Woolmington, London-based executive media director of Bozell Worldwide. "I think it goes beyond that. It's going to be about working more closely with media owners."
For example, Unisys, an international Bozell client, organizes conferences with the Financial Times as well as running ads in the newspaper.
"I don't think many people are taking big sophisticated multinational advertisers and linking with big multivehicle media," Mr. Jacobs said. "I think it will happen."
Jan Jaben contributed to this story.